Boston Prep 16 Miler (aka “Derry”)
Derry, New Hampshire
January 24, 2010
1:56:10 – 7:16 pace
80th place Overall of 800
20th place AG M40-49
January in the New England area for runner training for the Boston Marathon means one thing: doing the Boston Prep 16 Miler in Derry, New Hampshire. The course is billed as being “moderately challenging,” which is a laugh for those in the know. Derry, as it is affectionately known, is the single toughest race in the area – due to the hills and the notoriously brutal winter weather. Derry will tell you exactly where you are in your training for the big race later in April. The hills are so honest that they expose weaknesses in your training. The hills come so alive that most runners do not race; instead they use Derry as a supported long run. Racing Derry would leave even the heartiest mountain goat with too steep a recovery that, in the grand scheme of preparing for the Boston Marathon, it isn’t worth it.
Derry, NH – Mile 10 – Waving to buddy Mark, the fine photographer!
And so each year I approached Derry the exact same way – and that is as a fun supported long run. This year, just like last and those before (minus the year I did the Derry Double) I toed the line with two running buddies. Our goal was to run easy yet honest pace through mile 10 and then turn it up. My two buddies are far more disciplined than I. They stay easy until the “real” hills are done, about mile 12.5, and then pick it up. Not me. I turn it on at just beyond the 9 mile marker, where the roads starts turning up.
Through 5 miles, with my buddies Brian and Frankie, we cruised at 7:44 pace up and down the early hills. It’s an up and down start that is tough, but not bad when you’re not racing. This continued to mile 9, when we knocked our average pace down to 7:37.
At the base of the hill at just beyond mile 9 marking the beginning of the tough part – a two mile long incline sandwiched by more hills – I turned it up. Up and over the hills I powered, passing throngs of runners who, miles earlier, I saw go by me. On and up, stride short, cadence high, going and going, I dialed in a high effort where my heart rate was just below red line but stable for the push through all. Breathing was labored but on edge of control. Through the hills I was able to knock my pace down to an average of 7:30.
Finally over the last of the hills, I kept the effort high and tried to push harder and harder while remaining smooth. Those last 4 miles felt almost easy. I knew the top end speed work I had been doing on the treadmill was paying off. I was working very hard, but my form was solid, and I knew I could hold to the end. And that’s what I did.
Last 4 miles I put down an average pace of 6:15, with the last mile at 5:47. I felt so fluid that I could have gone an addition 4 miles at this pace.
All in all, it was a solid training day in the hills of Derry with Brian and Frankie with no weaknesses exposed. Boston 2010 is on track. Time to turn up the real speed work soon.
1 – 8:23
2 – 6:59
3 – 7:28
4 – 8:12
5 – 7:37 (38:41) – 7:44 pace through 5 miles
6 – 7:19
7 – 7:34
8 – 7:07
9 – 7:51
10 – 7:35
11 – 7:35 (1:23:48) – 7:37 pace through 11 miles
12 – 7:19
13 – 6:27
13.1 – 1:38:17 – 7:30 pace through half marathon
14 – 6:20
15 – 6:27
16 – 5:47 – (last 4 miles 25:03 – 6:15 pace)
Finish: 1:56:10 – 7:16 pace